Alabama football faces a tough challenge on Saturday night in Oxford. The Crimson Tide will square off in the SEC opener against an opponent that has beaten them twice in the past four years. Expect lots of offense.
Alabama football demolished ballyhooed quarterback Shea Patterson and Ole Miss 66-3 last season in Tuscaloosa. Entering into the game, Ole Miss averaged 496.66 yards of total offense a game. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and his defense allowed only 253 yards to interim head coach Matt Luke. Patterson could not stay upright as he was sacked five times.
There are three keys that Alabama needs to win the SEC opener:
Control the clock
Keeping senior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and the potent Rebels offense off the field should be the Crimson Tide’s top priority. Presently third in the nation in scoring offense (61.5) and second in passing offense (407.5), offensive coordinator Phil Longo maintains the most explosive offense that the Crimson Tide may face all season.
The Rebels time of possession is 22 minutes, next to dead last in the NCAA. Ole Miss is one of three teams in the nation to have five scoring drive under a minute.
Alabama has to control the clock to beat the Ole Miss Rebels. Ranked 48th in the country, the Crimson Tide’s time of possession is 31:26.50.
Alabama boasts four running backs that could start on any team in the country. Senior running back Damien Harris returns after consecutive 1,000 yards seasons. Sophomore Najee Harris currently leads all Tide rushers with 165 rushing yards and two scores. Add explosive Josh Jacobs to the mix, and the Tide sits currently 30th in the nation averaging 250 yards per game. During last year’s game, the Tide ran for 365 on 51 carries for a 7.2 average with Hurts leading the charge with 101 yards.
Dominating the line of scrimmage is an Alabama trademark. During his Arkansas State postgame press conference, Saban barked about more consistency from the running game. Offensive line coach Brent Key has one of the most talented offensive lines in Alabama history. The unit will have to gel quickly to take advantage of Ole Miss 107th ranked rushing defense (202.5).
Everyone is excited about Tua and the offense, but for a Tide win, Alabama will have to employ a ball-control offense.
Going into halftime of the Southern Illinois game, Ole Miss was down 38-35. Defensive coordinator, Wesley McGriff’s defense, has more holes than swiss cheese. Their philosophy will be to hold on enough to let the offense win the game.